WASHINGTON – Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants federal prosecutors to throw the book at criminal defendants.
“Prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious readily provable offense … the most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences,” Sessions wrote Wednesday in a Department of Justice memorandum.
The memorandum was sent Thursday to federal prosecutors and was released Friday to the public.
Sessions’ directive represents a reversal from Justice Department policies under the Obama administration that directed federal prosecutors in most circumstances to avoid charging non-violent defendants, such as low-level drug offenders, with crimes that would result in mandatory lengthy incarceration periods.
Sessions in the memorandum outlined Department of Justice protocol for prosecutors who might consider deviating from the new policy.
“There will be circumstances in which good judgement will lead a prosecutor to conclude that a strict application of the above charging policy is not warranted… Consistent with long-standing Department of Justice policy, any decision to vary from the policy must be approved by a United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General, or a supervisor designated by the United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General, and the reasons must be documented in the file.”
Criminal justice reform advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, issued statements Friday blasting Sessions’ memorandum.
“Jeff Sessions is pushing federal prosecutors to reverse progress and repeat a failed experiment — the War on Drugs — that has devastated the lives and rights of millions of Americans, ripping apart families and communities and setting millions, particularly Black people and other people of color, on a vicious cycle of incarceration,” said Udi Ofer, who is the director of the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice.
This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News
Bryan is a freelance political journalist whose experience includes three and a half years covering Congress and two years covering Maryland state government.
His work includes coverage of the election of Donald Trump, the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions-as well as that of the Maryland General Assembly, Gov. Larry Hogan, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryan has broken stories involving athletic and sexual assault scandals with the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
His original UMBC investigation gained international attention, was featured in People Magazine and he was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and local radio stations. Bryan broke subsequent stories documenting UMBC’s omission of a sexual assault on their daily crime log and a federal investigation related to the university’s handling of an alleged sexual assault.